Clarksville thriving two decades after devastating tornado

Special Reports

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN)— More than 20 years after a devastating tornado the city of Clarksville is thriving

January 22, 1999, an F3 tornado left behind massive destruction along a six-mile path.

Frank Lott the Executive Director of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center has been a resident of Clarksville since 1973. “We could not believe this could happen in our community…It was a very hard pill to swallow that day.”

Lott said more than 400 buildings were damaged or destroyed, including the historic County Courthouse, as well as, churches and buildings at Austin Peay State University. “The devastation of seeing your town in literally war zone rubble was overwhelming to all of us.”

The Tornado Recovery Task Force was created shortly after the tornado hit. The reconstruction of downtown took place over a three year period. Lott believes the recovery helped Clarksville to emerge better than ever, “Good things can come out of bad things, and the devastation at that moment looked like we would never recover, but it gave us a clean fresh palette to work from.”

Lott said nearly $300 million in new downtown development has been established since the tornado.

As part of News 2’s weeklong coverage of Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week coverage, Danielle Breezy brings you stories of storm survivors from across Middle Tennessee. Click here to see more.

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